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Maturity

As usability becomes mainstream, it will become integrated. Eventually it will be mature. The maturity of the software industry is something to envy. When coding first began 30 years ago, the programming process was mostly an individual activity. It was completed by unique people who stayed up late and struggled to debug their creations. Their work was a function of flashes of insight and unique, elegant solutions. Yet, in a few decades, the industry has completely changed in character.

The Future of Usability within a Government Agency

By Sean Wheeler, Lead Usability Specialist, The Social Security Administration

I think the recognition of and need for usability services will continue to grow. I believe that as we improve the business case for positive, powerful user experiences and then deliver that kind of experience, the public use of our Web site will increase. This is a critical part of the challenge for agencies like the Social Security Administration if we want more people to choose the information technology channel to contact us.

Quite simply, we must provide a Web experience that meets or exceeds the quality of the experiences that people get when they call our 800 number service or visit their local Social Security office. This was the challenge that our 800 number people faced when we first initiated that service. They had to answer those tough questions about how you communicate that sense of friendliness and provide service on the telephone when you can't see the public visitor face-to-face and share documents with them across a desk. We learned a lot from that channel shift, and we're just now learning what the shift to Web-based service delivery means.



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